It is estimated that the police in the United States shoot about 400 people per year (just over one-a-day) in a country of 312 million people, in what are termed incidents of ‘justifiable homicide’. Nairobi police have shot dead at least nine people in two days of this week: Kenya has a population of about 39 million people.
FOUR SHOT IN LAGATTA
On Wednesday, four alleged robbers were shot in Nairobi’s Langatta estate after they were trailed by police who suspected them of ‘various criminal activities’. An AK47 was ‘recovered from the suspects’.
THREE SHOT, ONE ‘LYNCHED’
Again on Wednesday, three young men were shot by police in a forest near Nairobi’s racecourse after they allegedly attempted to hold up an M-Pesa agent near Ngando shopping centre. A fourth man was beaten up by the mob and died later. Police said the gang was also suspected of terrorizing local people and robbing a supermarket on Tuesday evening.
TWO SHOT IN RUNDA
Back to Tuesday: police officers from the Crime Prevention Unit shot dead two more suspects in Runda, who were apparently dressed in police uniforms, after following them from the Ruiru-Ruaka bypass.
DID NO ONE SURRENDER?
The police have a tough job to do, there is no doubt and it’s not walk in the park out there on the streets of Nairobi: and admittedly in the Runda shooting incident, one suspect was arrested after he tried to escape on a motorbike. But the Kenya Forum has to ask: did none of these young men try to give themselves up? Did they all decide to shoot it out to the death? Were they all armed? And why is it that so many of these shooting incidents involving the police seem to end in the total annihilation of all the suspects?
We think of the United States as a violent country. As was pointed out, it has a population about eight times that of Kenya but a ‘justifiable homicide’ rate involving the police much lower per head of population than that of Kenya.
The Forum makes the point that if police in Los Angeles, Detroit, Washington DC or any other major US city had shot dead nine suspects in two days there would be an outcry and a major investigation would ensue.
POLICE SHOOTINGS IN KENYA – NOT EVEN NEWSWORTHY
Finally, the death of nine young men and the murder of two M-Pesa agents in Ngara and Embakasi reported at the same time, only warranted a quarter of a page of news coverage on page 16 of today’s Daily Nation, only three short columns on page 12 of The Standard and no mention at all in The Star.